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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Review: Defense Grid 2 (PS4)

I'm a big fan of tower defense games, but many of the current mobile games (such as FieldRunners) leave me cold: the production values are low, and map after map is just the same. Defense Grid: The Awakening was a great game, however, and when I saw that Defense Grid 2 was on sale on the Playstation Network over the holidays I picked it up and started playing.

One of my potential misgivings about playing a former PC game on a game console was that the controls would be awkward. To my surprise they weren't. The controls are intuitive, and actually quite a bit better than mouse and keyboard in some ways. For instance, on the PC, I'd forget about the camera controls and not notice a new swarm of enemies appearing from a different direction, but that never happened on the PS4.

The campaign took a while to play on normal difficulty, and to the games' credit, there are no difficulty spikes that cause you to scratch your head and start hunting for a youtube video the way Defense Grid: The Awakening had. On the other hand, that could be because I did play the first Defense Grid (which had no difficulty settings) thoroughly, and it could be that with higher difficulty ratings I'd have to go back to youtube again.

The best thing about Defense Grid was the production values. The game reminded you at every opportunity that it wasn't a low budget affair. This game has full voice acting at every instant, and the sound effects and maps and resultant emergent behavior between the swarms and the towers are quite spectacular to watch.

Towers have changed. The command towers have been eliminated, and stealth enemies are easier to deal with than before, while flying enemies have been eliminated. The missile tower is now a powerful land-attack tower, and is valuable for it's reach, virtually eliminating the cannon.

The game plays fair: if you place towers without thinking you'll have a tough time finishing with all your cores intact. If you think it through a bit, you can usually do a good job of eliminating all the enemies.

All in all, at full price, this game is a bit much: while there's enough content to keep you coming back, there aren't enough maps or changes from the original if you played the first one to death (which I did). But at $10 or less, it definitely belongs on your PC or console of choice. Recommended.

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